Plans to hold a Conservative party dinner at the National Coal Mining Museum have been cancelled over fears for staff safety.
Dewsbury County Conservative Association had booked the museum for its annual dinner on Saturday 10 March 2018, two days after the anniversary of the end of the 1984-85 miners strike.
Campaigners said the booking was insensitive to former miners and their families, whose industry was decimated by a Conservative government.
A number of groups across the country called for a picket line to be formed around the venue on the day of the dinner and encouraged outraged members of the public to complain directly to the NCMME.
Yesterday the museum said it would not cancel the booking, saying it was non political.
But today (Thursday), after campaigners posted details of an organised protest on the same day as the party, the museum announced it had decided to cancel the booking over safety concerns.
It said in a statement: “The trustees and managers of the museum have closely monitored and assessed the ongoing, developing situation and today, the Board of Trustees has agreed to accept the recommendation from (their catering company) Asparagus Green that the event booking in question should be cancelled.
“The over-riding responsibility of the museum at this time is its duty to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its staff and visitors as well as that of the Museum site; proposed actions by protestors to organise pickets at the site either at the time of the event or at any point in the intervening period have put this at risk.”
Asparagus Green said they were concerned protesters would target other events due to be held at the NCMME, such as the family-friendly pantomime, Santa Underground.
Both the NCMME and Asparagus Green confirmed they had received a number of complaints from members of the public, angry at the decision to host the Conservative event.
Thomas Siron, who created the Facebook group, ‘Protest - Conservative Association Annual Dinner at NCMME’, said: “It was never our intention to compromise visitor and staff safety. This protest was to be a peaceful protest and we would have ensured that this was the case on the day.”
Mr Siron added the Conservative Association were squarely to blame for the tension caused.
He said: “The choice of venue could not have been accidental - to plan such an event a mere two days after the anniversary of the end of the miners strike of 84-85 was surely a decision filled with spite and provocation.
“In my mind, the perfect response would be to stage a protest outside the venue. Such a reaction would both send a clear message to the Conservatives that their venue choice has angered locals, while also paying homage to our elders - those who suffered at the hands of the Conservative government, those who themselves stood outside mines, wielding protest boards and banners.”
Joe Rollin, chairman of mining campaign group Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, said: “The OTJC felt we had no option but to organise opposition and a peaceful picket at the planned event and are relieved that we no longer need to spend our time on this.”
The Dewsbury County Conservative Association was notified of the cancellation before any money had changed hands and they are currently looking for a new venue.
The Association Chairman, Mark Eastwood, said: “It’s sad that the company organising the event has now decided to cancel our event after initially agreeing to host it because they can’t guarantee their own staff’s safety. We chose the mining museum as it is suited to our needs in terms of size and location and we wanted to support what is a great community venture.”